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Smaller, More Efficient Government? Not In Huntington!

Huntington Town Hall

An excerpt from the May 7, 2014, Town of Huntington press release reads . . . . . .In other action, the Town Board:— approved a restructuring of the General Services Department into seven divisions and the creation of a second deputy director position in the department.

In the 47 years that I have been in business, I have found that most management precepts have remained constant.

My experience spans the hallowed halls of IBM and the fast-paced runways of American Airlines as well as the daily operating challenges of running small companies. In every instance, I have found that the decision to expand staff is always based on need–not want.

And there are basic steps that have to be taken before new people can be added to the payroll.

If a productivity log-jam becomes evident, the first step is to make certain that everyone is working to the best of their ability and to ensure that there are no impediments to efficiency. An audit of current operations usually unravels any difficulties and sets the venture on a revised course.

But if that fails to solve the problem, the next step is to reassign tasks. Failing those two changes, management usually seeks help in the form of additional personnel. But that, too, requires some diligence.

First, a position description has to be written. Then reporting channels must be defined and subordinated personnel have to be determined. And finally, management has to get a sign-off from human resources, finance, operations and the senior executive team.

Except in Huntington Town government where, according to this month’s earlier press release, the Director of General Services just tells the Town Board that he wants another “Deputy Director of General Services” and, voila, they unanimously approve his request.

No job description; no definition of the number of people to be supervised; no assignment of responsibility; no measures for performance or success.

The Director’s wish is apparently the Board’s command!

When I first read the Town’s press release, I tried to get a better understanding of the procedure and who might be filling this new role. In an email datedMay 12, I asked Town Spokesman AJ Carter several questions. The email read: “One of the other items in your release advises that a second Deputy Director position is being created in the General Services Department. Who is filling this new role? What’s the salary? How many total employees will report to this person? How many people were added to General Services in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and thus far in 2014? When does this person assume their duties? Please provide a copy of their position description. THX. JT

On May 12, Mr. Carter provided a partial answer and wrote“ . . . reorganizing the general services department. When that takes effect is uncertain and out of the Town’s control. Because the reorganization affects civil service employees, it must be approved by both the county and state civil service agencies.”

Since many of my original questions remained unanswered, I continued my inquiry and, on May 15, Mr. Carter provided additional insight as follows: “The second deputy director job has not been formally created yet – the approved resolution allowed for the creation of one. As a result, the job has not been filled. No salary has been established. The division of labor between the deputy directors, if and when the second one is established, will depend on the relationship between their individual skill sets.

Am I missing something here?

I dug a little further and asked Carter to tell me about the staffing levels for the Department of General Services over the last five years. Mr. Carter reported that, according to the Town budgets, they were as follows: “2010 – 116; 2011 – 114; 2012 –110; 2013 – 111; and budgeted for 2014 – 111.”

It seemed strange to me that the staffing levels have remained virtually the same over the last 5 years yet another Deputy Director was now needed. To get some clarity on the issue, we asked Mr. Carter to set up a telephone interview with Mr. Thomas J. Boccard, the current Director. Our original request was dated May 16. We made additional requests on May 20 and May 23. To no avail; our requests went unanswered.

In November of last year, Village Tattler published an analysis of the Town’s proposed 2014 budget and reported that the Department of General Services planned no increase in personnel but requested a 4.47% hike in wages and salaries for its employees. The escalation moved their planned expenditures from $8,361,733 to $8,735,751 while concurrently raising their Employee Benefits from $667,069 to $700,862; – a jump of another 4.82%. The analysis also showed that Director Boccard reported the following “goals” for his Department.

2014 Goals:

The Department’s 2014 goals include the following:

  • Reduce the number of vehicles (sic) repair costs by replacing older vehicles
  • Continue to institute Copy Order Efficiency Plan that will reduce the total number of copies produced
  • Reduce postage fees for bulk mailings (500 pieces and above)

Performance Measures:

The performance measures that will be used to measure progression towards departmental goals are as follows:

  • Request funding for the purchase of new vehicles and track the number of vehicles replaced.


Year Vehicle Maintenance Expenses Total Number of Vehicles in Fleet Vehicles Purchased and replaced
2011 $940000 237 0
2012 $966816 225 7
2013 $998815 (est) 221 11


  •  Monitor and track the number of work orders completed (all divisions).

So, is it really true that the taxpayers will soon be saddled with another $100,000 Town employee who will help the General Services Department reduce their photocopies and postage while requesting funding to purchase new vehicles?

The Town’s approved 2014 budget for the General Services Department makes no provision for this new Deputy Director position

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